T1

Affectively caring for ourselves and others: A Space of Caring

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BLOCKS
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MIRO
Please note: At the beginning of the course we would recommend that there will be offered a space to collect “rules of contact” (e.g. regarding atmosphere, rules of engagement, ways to support one another, trigger terms and safe words, etc.). We should jointly define ways of addressing each other (e.g. pronouns, names, gender, etc.) do’s and don’ts of interaction, so to make sure that nobody feels discriminated against. This would then be part of a broader group contract on how to work together and troubleshoot and the suggestions for this could be taken up during the whole event. In the welcome session, students can also be reminded of the possibility to share with their colleagues some personal items that enhance their well-being for further exchange (see below for further information).

Brief description

As BRIDGES course aims at detecting forms of structural and epistemic violence based on racism and coloniality in HEI, we would like to offer a space of awareness that acknowledges participants’ own heterogeneous experiences with different forms of violence in the past and present. As such, it is our responsibility to be attentive to not produce situations and spaces of harm and be attentive to the precarious vulnerability of our participants. This space is therefore a space of self- and community-healing. The space of caring shall provide a space for participants – both learners and facilitators – to exchange and share on an affective dimension the effects that the BRIDGES course has on their bodies, emotions, minds and spirits – both positive and possibly hurtful ones. Further, this self-organized course unit should offer a space of reflection and exchange in regard to the participants biographies, perspectives, encounters and future visions.

The transversal course unit is conceptualized as a self-organized, accessible safe space that has synchronic and asynchronic elements during the timespan of the course. As synchronic planned element there will be one group session at the end of the first presential week. This meeting will start on Zoom. After a first introduction as a big group and a general reflection of our well-being through BRIDGES course, we will then define topics which participants want to freely reflect further in small groups which will take place in Gather.town. These small groups can end whenever participants wish, and also continue over the next few days, in case they want to continue working on it. If so, they can mention topic-groups in MIRO to let others know when and where to join them for it. Thus, we can have small group meetings with or without a moderator during the whole timespan of the course (see below for technical information) which are self-organized and upon participants initiative. Thus, the asynchronic elements consist of:

  1. a space in Miro, where participants can share their thoughts anonymously or with identity, and
  2. voluntary, self-organized meetings in small groups at any time in Gather.town.

The safe space (both Gathertown and Miro) will be open at all times and offer a digital shelter for those who feel they need to further talk or share about specific points or share their thoughts. They can meet independently in small groups but also ask one of the organizers to accompany them in case they seek support. The spaces are open throughout the workshop for anyone to access if/ when needed and can also be utilised for specific reflection sessions.

Objectives

This autonomous and self-organized transversal course unit should provide a space

  • where we can exchange on strategies on how to protect ourselves and develop support structures for each other (constantly, on a voluntary and individual basis)
    where we can talk about situations during the course that made us feel vulnerable or situations where we became aware of our strength (constantly, on a voluntary and individual basis)
  • to put into practice solidarity, and to learn from each other and create ties to strengthen each other instead of struggling alone (constantly, on a voluntary and individual basis, and as a joint exercise during the two moderated sessions)
  • And lastly, where we can reflect on experiences and visions of collective organizing (at the final moderated session; thus, this space connects to the tool Migra*BPOC resistance)

Procedure (steps, instructions and timing)

The transversal course unit is conceptualized as a self-organized and accessible safe space that has synchronic and asynchronic elements during the time-span of the course. As synchronic element there will be one group session. The asynchronic elements consist of:

  1. a Space in Miro and
  2. voluntary meetings in small groups in Gather.town

Preparation / Prior to the beginning of the course

The participants are invited in advance to “bring with them” to the course something that can give them and others comfort, that motivates them and reassures them, and to leave this item in Miro during the course (e.g. a personal memory, a short video, a picture, a special routine, a poem, a joke, some soul food, a recipe). This way, the process of designing the Space of Caring together becomes in itself a sharing and caring experience – also if some may not participate in the general meeting nor in small group meetings in Gather.town.

During the course

  • In the course presentation meeting on 29th, the concept of the course will be presented and the asynchronic space of caring on Miro as well as the options for joint small group meetings in Gather.town presented.
  • In the synchronic meeting (voluntary participation), a space will be offered to have a collective reflection on the affective dimension of the effects that the BRIDGES course has on their bodies, emotions, minds and spirits. As part of this meeting, we will also have a look at the tools neoliberal compliance and Migra*BPOC.
  • At the end of the course, the space will have the potential of offering in the collaborative assessment of the course an affective debriefing. What affected my personal and emotional well-being and stability? What gave me strength? What have we jointly co-produced? Which connections have I made and what has inspired me? The idea is that we leave the course in a positive and empowered way with a feminist and decolonizing horizon for change.

Asynchronic elements

  1. During the course span, the Miro Space can be filled with content that inspired, strengthened and supported us, and/or which connect to moments or topics discussed during the other classes. Thus, it is also a space of creation and offers a transformative dimension of healing.
  2. Participants can meet spontaneously in Gather.town with or without a moderator (if they wish to be accompanied, they should ask the responsible moderator/s prior to the meeting to ensure availability and /or agree on a meeting time).

Necessary Materials

The participants are invited in advance to “bring with them” to the course something that can give them and others comfort, that motivates them and reassures them, and to leave this item in the Miro during the course (e.g. a personal memory, a short video, a picture, a special routine, a poem, a joke).

Technical Tools

  • Zoom
  • Gather.town is a small digital retreat, where you can walk around with an avatar and automatically talk with those you get close to you. Not everyone hears one another – only if they stand together in the same circle. You can also have a private meeting (private spaces, which are tables with chairs, or sofas) so that no one can listen to your chat. Gather.town is free, does not require any software, and rooms are open 24/7, so you can also meet up with peers at any time during the course. You can best use it in Chrome or Firefox, but any browser should be fine. Two spaces are set up for the caring session and for informal socialising in-between scheduled sessions: BRIDGES Park Office BRIDGES Café.
  • Miro

Expected Results

It shall improve both comfortability, solidarity, engagement and networking among participants. While some may almost immediately identify in the course tools they can use to better protect and/or join forces to dismantle these forms of violence, to others the confrontation, visibilization and articulation of these forms of violence may trigger unexpected traumatic reactions toward vulnerable situations that they have tried to ignore in the past. Our tool Neoliberal Compliance offers some introduction into this state of mind and soul. At the same time, it values and offers strategies of self-protection. However, a self-organized space may provide the added value of solidarity and allyship to confront the individual hardship by building a collective space. Also, we should consider that, despite all efforts, a deliberal interaction among participants and facilitators in a postcolonial context is always embedded in coloniality, and thus prone to reproduce unconsciously specific forms of epistemic, structural, cultural and psychological violence.

Derived materials from the activity (to be uploaded on this website)

The Miro allows for having a joint collage. At the end of the meeting, the responsible co-moderators will present this collage to the overall group to ensure anonymity. Also, if all the participants agree, this collage can be shared more widely (for example through Instagram).

Curators + Collaborators during the Test Course:

Self-organized, participants are invited beforehand to take responsibility for this space. The group of volunteers will present themselves at the beginning of the course. However, a responsible lecturer must monitor the content on Miro on a regular basis.